Search consultants take a beating

Jennifer Comiteau’s five articles on what agencies think of search consultants [Aug. 4] are accurate, but be fair. Search consultants help clients and agencies come together. The method of compensation is a separate matter. Burtch Drake is right: It is a conflict of interest for a consultant to get paid by both sides. But if a consultant is paid by the client or the agency (but never both), there is no ethical issue.

It is interesting that consultants are excluded from 4A’s membership yet are held to standards (“Rules of the Road for Agency Search Consultants”) set by an organization whose members benefit from the work they do. Also, the 4A’s endorses the consultants mentioned in these stories even though, by Jennifer’s own accounting, many of them violate the 4A’s rules on compensation.

By and large, the consultants aren’t listening to Burtch Drake, as evidenced by the fact that most don’t use the 4A’s format for a standardized RFP. And for Burtch to say agencies shouldn’t have to pay, indirectly or otherwise, to participate in new-business pitches is ludicrous. Agencies spend a fortune and always will when they want to win.

Charles G. Meyst
Glen Allen, Va.

For the Record: Fallon’s winning pitch in the Subway review [July 21] did include spec creative. That work will be produced and shown to franchisees this month. It will launch in September. The On the Road feature on Boise agency es/drake [July 28] misidentified Bill Drake’s alma mater: It is Idaho State University, not the University of Idaho. Also, the names of Dave Syferd and Elgin Syferd Drake were misspelled. A newswire item [July 21] misidentified Entertainment Marketing Inc.’s new CEO. He is John Davidoff.

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